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Thursday, Sep 21, 2017
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Brandon sports center goes academic with tools to help kids

BRANDON - Chuck Burgess understands why people may not be aware of the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center's educational offerings. "People hear our name or they see our pool and they might only think about our athletic programs," said Burgess, the facility's executive director. "Our goal is to make a real impact on the families who come here, and that goes beyond sports." To that end, the center officially unveiled its Academic Enrichment Center during a ceremony Friday. Thanks to funding from the Tampa-based Saunders Foundation and Colwill Engineering & Technologies, as well as the Rotary Club of Brandon, the enrichment center contains a Smart Board — an interactive white board — and 10 new iPads. Burgess hopes to add 10 more iPads in the next six months.
"Some of these kids don't have, or might never have, this kind of technology in their hands," Burgess said. "We think these tools can help take their learning to the next level." The new technology is available to kids in the center's afterschool program — with an average of 150 elementary and middle school students from 20 area schools — as well as the children in the early-childhood learning program and the TRIDENT program for intellectually disabled youth and adults. Though the Academic Enrichment Center was officially unveiled Friday, kids have been using it since the second week of January. "We want all our kids immersed and engrossed with this technology, which will also help them learn about music and art," Burgess said. "It also allows us to do some life-skill development work with the kids in the TRIDENT program." The 600-square-foot enrichment center is housed in what was formerly a child care room. The $16,000 project also allowed for the conversion of a staff meeting room into a Nintendo Wii room and an additional space for Volunteer Pre-Kindergarten students. "We're blessed to have such great donors, and we're all really excited to share the enrichment center with our kids and the community," Burgess said.

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